Notes From Tide Win Over Bulldogs
Alabama now has a 72-18-3 all-time record against Mississippi State in a series that dates to the 1896 season. Alabama has more wins and has played more games (93) than against any other opponent. The teams have played each year since 1948, a streak of 61 consecutive games.
As might be expected, much of the news from Saturday night regards Alabama kick return star Javier Arenas. Arenas, a junior, had a stellar night as a punt return man.
With 153 yards on six punt returns, Arenas set a new Alabama record for punt return yardage. That total bettered the mark of 147 yards set by Arenas on September 6 against Tulane. Prior to this season, the Alabama record for single-game punt return yards was held by Harry Gilmer, who compiled 122 yards on punt returns in a 17-7 win at Georgia on October 25, 1947.
Arenas also set an Alabama record for career punt return yardage, now at 1,146 yards. Arenas is averaging 13 yards per punt return for his career (1,146 yards on 88 returns), an average that has him on pace for second place in Alabama history. Gilmer's average of 13.5 yards per punt return (1,119 yards on 83 returns from 1944-47) is the best in Alabama history.
Arenas' 80-yard punt return for a touchdown tied for 10th longest in Alabama history. It was his third career return of 80 or more yards, giving him three of the 10 longest punt returns in Crimson Tide history.
It was his fifth punt return for a touchdown, which is an Alabama record. David Palmer is credited with four. Palmer had a fifth, against Colorado in the 1991 Blockbuster Bowl, but that was before the NCAA changed the rules to recognize statistics accumulated in bowl games. One of Arenas' punt returns for a TD came against Oklahoma State, 86 yards in the 2006 Independence Bowl.. Arenas' other punt returns for touchdowns are 65 yards against Florida International in 2006, 61 yards against LSU last year, and 87 yards against Tulane earlier this season.
Sophomore cornerback Kareem Jackson opened the scoring for Alabama against Mississippi State with a blocked punt out of the end zone for a safety to give Alabama a 2-0 lead with 10:03 left in the first quarter. The safety was the first recorded by the Crimson Tide this season, and the first since an intentional grounding call awarded two points to Alabama against Houston on October 6, 2007.
Junior running back Glen Coffee rushed for 71 yards on 17 carries against Mississippi State. That performance improved his season rushing totals to 1,091 yards on 179 carries (6.1 yards per carry) with eight touchdowns. The yardage total ranks eighth in Alabama history for a season.
Alabama freshman wide receiver Julio Jones had three catches for 53 yards. In his last four games, Jones has 21 catches for 346 yards (16.5 yards per reception). For the season, Jones has 687 yards receiving, the most ever by a Crimson Tide freshman, surpassing Ozzie Newsome, who had 374 yards in 1974. Jones also holds the freshman season receptions record with 43, passing A.C. Carter who had 29 in 1999.
Freshman running back Mark Ingram rushed for 78 yards and one touchdown Saturday night, scoring on a run of one yard with 7:58 left in the fourth quarter to give him nine rushing touchdowns this season. That set a new Alabama record for touchdown runs by a freshman, eclipsing Terry Grant's eight rushing touchdowns in 2007.
As we have pointed out each week for the past month of so, Nick Saban has a new record for coaching victories to start a season. He moved to 11-0 for the first time in his head coaching career with the win over Mississippi State. Prior to this season, Saban had fielded two teams that reached 6-0 and two teams that reached 5-0, including his 2003 national championship team.
Alabama now has 12 consecutive victories, dating back to a win over Colorado in last year's Independence Bowl. Alabama longest winning streak in history was 28 games, which was snapped by Mississippi State in a 6-3 win over the Tide in Jackson, Miss., in 1980. Alabama's last 12-game winning streak began in the 1993 Gator Bowl and continued until a loss to Florida in the 1994 SEC Championship Game. The Crimson Tide's winning streak is tied for the longest in the nation with Texas Tech, which was idle on Saturday, and Utah, which defeated San Diego State on Saturday night.
Bama's 7-0 start in SEC games is the first time since 1994 Bama has started a season with seven consecutive conference victories. That Tide team went to 8-0, but lost to Florida in the SEC Championship Game. This is also Alabama's first 11-0 start to a season since 1994. That team finished 12-1, including a win over Ohio State in the Florida Citrus Bowl.
By holding Mississippi State to 35 yards rushing on 22 attempts for the game, Alabama improved to 12-2 under Coach Nick Saban when holding opponents to less than 100 rushing yards in a game, including a 9-0 mark in 2008. The Crimson Tide held Clemson (0), Tulane (86), Western Kentucky (42), Arkansas (92), Georgia (50), Kentucky (35), Tennessee (36), Arkansas State (91) and Mississippi State (35) to less than 100 rushing yards. Alabama has held opponents to less than 100 rushing yards in nine of the first 11 games of the season. Going back to 2007, the Tide has held 10 of their last 12 opponents below 100 yards rushing with Colorado amassing just 75 yards in the 2007 Independence Bowl. Alabama was 3-2 last year when opponents failed to reach 100 rushing yards in a game. In Coach Saban's 24-game tenure at Alabama, the Tide has held its opponent under 100 yards rushing 14 times.
Freshman running back Mark Ingram's 40-yard run late in the third quarter is his longest run of the season.
Senior quarterback John Parker Wilson's sneak for a touchdown in the second quarter to put Alabama up 12-7 was the first offensive touchdown scored by Alabama against the Bulldogs since the fourth quarter of the UA-MSU game on November 6, 2004 in Tuscaloosa. That touchdown was a four-yard pass from Spencer Pennington to LaRon McClain with 5:28 remaining in the fourth quarter of a 30-14 Alabama victory.
Junior linebacker Brandon Fanney recovered a Mississippi State fumble in the first quarter. The recovery was the first of Fanney's Alabama career, coming in his 22nd game in a Crimson Tide uniform and his 11th start.
Junior placekicker Leigh Tiffin made three field goals against Mississippi State, giving him 46 successful field goals in his Alabama career (in 67 attempts). Tiffin ranks fourth in Crimson Tide history for field goals made, trailing Philip Doyle (78 in 105 attempts from 1987-90), Michael Proctor (65-of-91 from 1992-95) and Tiffin's father, Van Tiffin (59-of-88 from 1983-86).
Joining senior center Antoine Caldwell and senior safety Rashad Johnson, who have been captains for every game this year, as game captain for Mississippi State was senior offensive guard Marlon Davis.
Honorary captain was Marty Lyons, a star defensive tackle for the 1978 national championship Alabama team which was honored at halftime.
When Alabama plays Florida in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 6 in the GeorgiaDome in Atlanta, it will be Bama's first appearance in the game since the 1999 Crimson Tide defeated the Gators for the SEC title. Bama is 2-3 in SEC Championship Games, all previous games coming against Florida.
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